If you were injured and think PennDot may be to blame, contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation.
When a cyclist is injured by something in the care and control of the Pennsylvania DOT, he or she might want to seek compensation from the state. Pennsylvania, like all states in the Union, have a law called “sovereign immunity” which protects them against their citizens’ lawsuit. However, Pennsylvania passed the Sovereign Immunity Claims Act law years ago that allowed for some lawsuits. Section 8522 provides exceptions to the general protection against lawsuits, but with it comes many restrictions.
Bicycle Injury Claims Exception
Cyclists are out on the city streets, and the law allows for some types of negligent suits against the government in case of injury. Some examples of these exceptions are:
- Accidents caused by government vehicle
- Injures suffered on government property
- Any area of a construction zone that was controlled by the government
- Trees, shrubbery maintained by government
- Negligent design or maintenance of roadways, traffic signs or patters, guard rails
The key to any of these is that the problem that led to the accident must be based on negligence by the state. For example, if a tree limb was sticking down after a storm and a cyclist hit it and was injured, he or she would have to prove that the government failed to maintain the path and clean up the branch in a timely manner, or that they did clean that area up but negligently left that branch hanging across a bike path.
This requirement protects the government from a lot of lawsuits as it’s often difficult to prove that the government acted negligently and that the problem wasn’t just caused by nature or the cyclist.
Other Restrictions and Requirements
Notice requirement: The code requires that the person give notice to PennDot or appropriate office within 180 days of the date of injury.
Statute of Limitations: Most negligent claims have a filing deadline, and as of June of 2019, that deadline is two years after date of injury. If filed after, the claim is subject to dismissal.
Caps on Damages: As of June, 2019, the damage cap on any claims against the government is $250,000 per person and $1 million per occurrence.
The Pothole Problem
Potholes are big problem in the Philadelphia metro area, and they can cause serious property and bodily injury to cyclists. After the Claims Act was enacted, to make a claim for a pothole injury or property damage, the person must prove that a previous pothole repair was negligent, or that the government had been given notice of a pothole that posed a serious risk, and that the government failed to fix in a timely manner.
Though the law allows for a pothole claim, it is rarely—if ever—allowed. In 2018., and 2,970 claims since 2014, and the state of Pennsylvania paid out zero. However, if you were injured due to a pothole crash, contact us for a free consultation before assuming anything.
Contact a Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today.
If you feel you’ve been injured while riding your bike by negligence by a city the state, you need to talk to a Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyer to evaluate your case and give you unbiased advice. Even though it’s tough proving negligence, it is successfully done all the time.
Submitting a claim against PennDOT is a complicated endeavor and at the Pearce Law Firm, P.C., we have attorneys on staff that have the knowledge and experience to file a claim and get you the compensation you deserve.